When I get home on Wednesday afternoons, I’m usually not good for much but to put my toddler down for a nap and climb in bed myself for an hour. This nap time is the deepest I sleep all week long.
So, what is it I do on Wednesday mornings? A simple two-hour discussion group on the book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala.
That’s not so bad, you’re thinking.
You’re right. It’s a great time– we worship together, discuss and read Scripture, pray together and then have lunch that we’ve all brought along.
It’s very enjoyable- I love it- and I’m excited to see faces that are encouraged, light bulbs that come on, hearts that are challenged and hear testimonies how God is changing their lives.
But I’m not of any use after that– because it’s all in Japanese.
There are a lot of hours that go into the preparation. First I read the chapter in English and then read in Japanese. I underline words I can’t read and then I spend time going back and looking up all the kanji (I’m not gonna lie, it’s not fascinating work). Then I go back and highlight portions, etc., that might be good to quote for reference (I don’t have the ability yet to easily scan a page to find what I am looking for quickly).
Next comes the discussion questions, which we already have from the book. The process is similar to above.
Pray. Pray a lot for wisdom to lead it and hear what God wants to share– an encouraging story or verse to start off with. Translate that. Pray. A lot more.
Each time I lead (I co-lead with another Japanese girl– she has toddlers too and so we go every other week), I ask for favor (mercy) from the Japanese, because I know that sometimes they have to put 2 and 2 together to make 4. We joke about question marks pinging above their heads when I’ve said something particularly confusing. The good thing about not being super competent yet is that God gets the glory for anything good that comes out of it. And usually, there are times when I feel like God just flows through me and communicates with ease what He wants to say- it’s literally not me and I seem to be aware of this in the moment. It’s usually something that I hadn’t planned ahead of time and these are my favorite moments of all. Today I had one of those moments. It’s so cool to see God at work and to be a part of that.
As an aside, I don’t always recommend leading without language competency. It’s important, especially when sharing the Gospel and with a new Christian that we share with competency and clarity in the language– not only because the Gospel is worth the effort and care, but so that we can correctly lay the foundation.
The weeks that I don’t lead are spent in preparation for the next time that I do. And during those meetings, I quietly translate to English for the one participant that doesn’t speak Japanese (during the weeks that I lead, I do the English for myself too, but my co-leader translates people’s comments to English).
By mid-lunch, smoke can be seen drafting from my ears.
I’m excited to hear some of what God is doing though. When I see the ladies throughout the week, I hear comments like-
-I really took what I learned to heart- I realized that I haven’t been waiting for God to respond. I just pray and dash on about my day. The next time I prayed [after that meeting], I stopped to be quiet and wait for the Lord.
-It’s actually pretty exciting to just talk to God about any little thing throughout the day.
There are others but I can’t recall right now.
It’s good to know that God can the weak things of the world to do what He wants to do in the hearts of His people.